As a book-lover, it pains me to admit that there is only so much you can learn from your bookshelf. Sometimes, as writer Ray Bradbury said, you have to “jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.” OK, he was referring to his writing process, but I’d like to think his advice is applicable to our lives overall.
After all, none of us truly knows what we’re doing, and that couldn’t be truer than in the case of new parenthood. We have to figure it out along the way. Here, The Everymom editors share the truths about motherhood that no one could have prepared them for.
On sleep deprivation
“Trying to sleep when the baby sleeps is like trying to fall asleep with a ticking time bomb. You’re constantly worried they’re about to wake up again.” – Jaclyn Voran, Contributing Editor
“You have to advocate for your own sleep as much as possible during those early newborn days, mama. You may want to snuggle that baby 24/7 or be the one to do it all, but being your best comes with rest (I didn’t mean to rhyme, but hey, it works!). Seriously, every single moment you can rest and sleep—do it.” – Laura Adom, Contributing Editor
Trying to sleep when the baby sleeps is like trying to fall asleep with a ticking time bomb.
“You actually don’t get a goodnight sleep for years, not just during the newborn stage.” – Kathy Sisson, Assistant Managing Editor
“The second you sit down for a moment to yourself, usually to eat, the baby WILL wake up crying, without fail.” – Jaclyn Voran, Contributing Editor
On needing a break
“It can be really lonely. Devastatingly so. And postpartum depression is more common than you may think. It doesn’t make you a bad mom either. You can love your baby, feel lonely, and be a good mom.” – Melissa Guida-Richards, Contributing Editor
“You can love your baby and also need time away from them too. There isn’t a gold medal waiting for the mom who is with their baby the most. If you feel like you’d like some time away, be it 15 minutes or a day, ask for that. Recharging your battery is important for your mental and emotional health.” – Laura Adom, Contributing Editor
There isn’t a gold medal waiting for the mom who is with their baby the most. Recharging your battery is important for your mental and emotional health.
“‘It’s OK if you don’t love motherhood at first.’ A close friend told me this before I had my first, and at the time, I thought it sounded strange. Now, I totally get it. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, especially in the early days.” – Jaclyn Voran, Contributing Editor
“Postpartum depression is real, and it can land anywhere on the spectrum. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with you, but you may need to lean on a support system like a partner, friend, or healthcare professional. Just know that you don’t have to go through it alone.” –Laura Adom, Contributing Editor
On finally understanding our parents
“Time doesn’t fly; it travels at warp speed. I didn’t really pick up on this one until just a few days ago. My dad, who is here to help as we welcomed our third baby, was watching me change my newborn daughter. ‘She’ll be in college before you know it,’ he said quietly. I wanted to respond with some variation of ‘She was just born!’ but I caught a glimpse of him looking at his grown daughter holding his third grandchild and in that moment, I knew he was right. People will tell you it goes fast, but nobody will tell you just how fast it goes.” – Ojus Patel, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
People will tell you it goes fast, but nobody will tell you just how fast it goes.
“It’s funny to realize our own parents were just improvising and learning along the way too.” – Kathy Sisson, Assistant Managing Editor
On finding your way as a mother
“I’m convinced that motherhood changes the landscape of our brains so that they split forever into two distinct tracks: one side is reserved for us and the other for listening out for our children crashing around in the next room. How is it possible that I can listen to both a news segment on the radio and the 500th knock-knock joke of the morning at the same time, and understand them both? Mom Magic.” – Lizzie Goodman, Contributing Editor
“When you have a baby, there is a new sense of worry that is now part of your life. I’ve never really struggled with anxiety, but after having my daughter, I remember having this feeling (while holding my hand on her back to make sure she was breathing) that I’d be worried for the rest of my life. And I do think it’s true; there is this tiny person that you love so much, and your concern for their wellbeing is going to be ever-present. Even though the worry might always be there, it comes and goes in waves of strength. I’m much more confident in my mothering abilities, and though I am still feeling some level of worry, it doesn’t overwhelm me like it did at first.” – Amanda Shapin Michaelson, Contributing Editor
I’m convinced that motherhood changes the landscape of our brains so that they split forever into two distinct tracks: one side is reserved for us and the other for listening out for our children crashing around in the next room.
“It doesn’t get easier. Sorry to tell you the thing no one wants to say out loud, but it’s true. You hear a lot of ‘Just wait until they’re X old, it’ll get easier,’ but over seven years in, I’m learning that it really just gets harder. Sleepless nights due to teething and feeding are replaced with sleepless nights wondering how to ease your child’s anxiety or help them deal with that bully or guilting yourself over how you lost your patience that day. It does not get easier. But what I’ve also learned is that you do get better at it day by day, you find your step as a parent and things fall into place. With time comes knowing your kid better and better and gaining confidence as their parent.” – Ojus Patel, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
“I wish I had learned earlier that parenting is detective work. It took me a while to realize that no one, not even our hot-tempered toddlers, wants to throw a tantrum. The message sinks in a little more every day: every behavior has an emotion or need at its root. Sometimes, I’m discovering, an emotional meltdown is my daughter’s way of saying she needs me by her side.” – Lizzie Goodman, Contributing Editor
And sometimes, kids are gross…
“I grew up with only brothers and now have two daughters. I thought just boys were wild and disgusting; now I know girls are too.” – Kathy Sisson, Assistant Managing Editor
“Your babies will be long out of diapers, and you will still be wiping little bums for quite some time. Teaching kids how to keep their bodies clean is a loooong process that ultimately relies on their fine-motor strength and dexterity and the maturity and self-awareness to recognize when their little bums are actually clean. And let me tell you, it takes the better side of forever to teach that.” – Ojus Patel, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
“There’s no elegant way to say this: small children do not flush the toilet. Like ever.” – Lizzie Goodman, Contributing Editor